Daphne Du Maurier’s 1938 novel Rebecca is quite possibly the only perfect novel—a slow burn of a book chronicling the marriage of a first-person narrator so painfully insecure she doesn’t even tell the reader her own name to a much older, wealthy man. The story follows the narrator’s monomaniacal obsession with her new husband’s hot dead first wife, Rebecca, who acts as an empty vessel for all her unspoken insecurities concerning the nebulous circumstances of her rushed and awkward marriage. There is nothing sexy about Rebecca except Rebecca, a detail Ben Wheatley, director of a forthcoming Netflix adaptation of the novel, seems to have missed.
The new trailer for Rebecca features Armie Hammer’s chiseled jaw and torso in the role of Maxim de Winter, which is, of course, all wrong if one has ever read a du Maurier novel. Impotence abounds in a good Du Maurier yarn, like Rebecca or My Cousin Rachel, and the only people worth boning are women. All the sexiness of Rebecca, in particular, is concentrated in a character already dead by stormy boating accident at the onset of the novel.
In the new adaptation, Lily James will play the timorous Second Mrs. De Winter. Since she is human, I’m sure the talented and beautiful James must have at least one or two insecurities, but in the role of “poor, orphaned, possibly homely teenager so self-conscious cocker spaniels intimidate her,” I’m having a hard time accepting the hot flapper cousin from Downton Abbey. Rebecca will have to be played by giant portraits of Cate Blanchett accepting Oscars to sell the idea that she is a physical manifestation of Cinderella’s self-loathing. Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs. Danvers is fine and everyone should feel good about it.
The central conflict of Rebecca is the Second Mrs. de Winter’s blaming a lack of passion in her marriage on a ghost, rather than the fact that her gross boner-killer of a husband is a forty-something-year-old man that marries a woman who was very recently a child after sulking near her for less than a month on holiday. Rebecca is not actually the problem in Rebecca, a detail the trailer—which my colleague Kelly Faircloth pointed out looks like a Fifty Shades of Grey ripoff, rather than the other way around—seems to promise the film will ignore. Obviously, I am going to watch this movie, but as someone who is more devoted to Rebecca than both Jasper and Mrs. Danvers combined, I have concerns.